brad brace

2/9/2009

FLOODED POPPIES MINIMIZE SECURITY DROUGHT CRISIS

The Solomon Islands declared a national disaster after torrential rain and
flooding in the South Pacific nation killed eight people and left another
13 missing, destroying homes and bridges.

The International Federation of Red Cross and Red Crescent Societies (IFRC)
is reporting that populations in large areas of Kenya and the Horn of
Africa are now facing an exceptional humanitarian crisis that requires
urgent food assistance. The combined effect of high worldwide food prices
and a crippling drought are seriously jeopardizing the lives, livelihoods,
and dignity of up to 20 million people in rural and urban communities.

Opium poppy cultivation inched up by 3 percent last year in Myanmar,
according to a United Nations report, the second consecutive annual
increase that appears to signal a reversal of years of declining opium
production in the so-called Golden Triangle.

Indonesian security forces attacked a group of one hundred tribal people
who were peacefully protesting about delays to local elections in Nabire,
West Papua.

“Containment of the problem is under threat. Opium prices are rising in
this region. It’s going to be an incentive for farmers to plant more.”

Twelve communities on the Solomons’ main island of Guadalcanal had been
assessed as disaster-hit and appealed for international assistance.
Australia and France have already promised emergency aid.

Papua New Guinea’s law and order problem is set to get worse if a
recommendation to increase the national minimum wage is approved by the
government.

The Golden Triangle, the area where the borders of Thailand, Laos and
Myanmar meet, once produced two-thirds of the world’s opium, most of it
refined into heroin. But pressure by the Chinese government to eradicate
opium in Myanmar helped lead to steep declines, with a low point of 21,500
hectares, or 53,000 acres, of poppies planted in Myanmar in 2006. Since
then, opium cultivation has bounced back by around 33 percent, to 28,500
hectares last year.

For the past 17 years Papua New Guinea’s lowest income earners, like
security guards, have brought home just $US13 a week. Government plans to
increase that to $US43 has business owners worried.

When police began attacking the crowd, the demonstrators called for Mr
Yones Douw, a respected human rights worker, to document the violence. When
Mr Douw arrived, the police attacked him – witnesses said he was kicked,
beaten on the side the head and punched in the face before being arrested,
along with seven protesters. The police also beat other protestors, and
fired rubber bullets into the crowd. Five people were seriously wounded,
and many others received minor bullet wounds.

Since December, flooding has also hit the Pacific island nations of Fiji,
Papua New Guinea, Micronesia and the Marshall Islands, with tens of
thousands of islanders abandoning homes.

UN officials warn that the global economic crisis may fuel an increase in
poppy production because falling prices for other crops may persuade
farmers to switch to opium. The UN Office on Drugs and Crime, said corn
prices had fallen by half over the past year. The price of opium, by
contrast, has increased 26 percent in Laos and 15 percent in Myanmar over
the same period.

Heavy rain and flooding on Guadalcanal and nearby Savo Island has caused
widespread damage and forced the evacuation of more than 70 villagers to
the capital Honiara.

The PNG Manufacturers Council said the economy cannot accommodate a higher
salary. “It’s not the fact that the private sector doesn’t want to pay, its
whether the economy can accommodate that high level of salary.”

“In Kenya 80 percent of the territory is affected, with the northern and
lower eastern Kenya the most affected. We’re talking of a target population
of 1.6 million for the Red Crescent.”

Farmers in the isolated highlands of the Golden Triangle are also hampered
by bad roads and difficulties getting their crops to market. They often
find that small parcels of opium are easier to carry across the rough
terrain.

The Solomon Islands Red Cross had sent emergency staff and volunteers to
distribute relief supplies to communities in West Guadalcanal and Longu, in
the island’s east. The Solomon Islands is a nation of about 500,000 mainly
Melanesian people, spread across hundreds of islands, which gained
independence from Britain in 1978.

The global economic crisis is only just starting to short-change Papua New
Guinea, with the wage set to further undermine the local economy. “We
become less competitive, our prices go up and we don’t sell any goods.” It
could lead to thousands of workers being laid off, adding to the country’s
already high unemployment and crime rates.

Other areas are Djibouti with 50 thousand people in dire need. Ethiopia is
affected with an estimated 5 million need of food. The Red Cross is moving
in to start assisting the first 150 thousand people. The Red Cross and the
Red Crescent are also active in southern Somalia, as well as Somaliland and
Puntland.

Although opium is still grown in parts of Laos, Vietnam and Thailand, UN
officials say that about 94 percent of the region’s opium comes from
Myanmar. Most of the Golden Triangle heroin is sold within the region, but
small amounts also reach the United States and Australia. Recent seizures
of heroin thought to come from the Golden Triangle have been made on the
Thai resort island of Phuket, Ho Chi Minh City and Yangon, Myanmar’s
commercial capital.

“The key issue for PNG is more people working and that basically improves
the lifestyle of people and that without a doubt helps law and order
because when people can put food on the table there is harmony, you take
that opportunity away and you have unrest. Or, employers could head to the
labour black market, choosing instead to pay workers their current wage
under the table.”

Eyewitnesses say that a range of security forces were involved in the
attack, including Brimob, Indonesia’s notorious para-military police, plus
soldiers and Indonesia’s Intelligence Service.

The alarming spread of HIV by heroin users in southern China several years
ago persuaded the Chinese authorities to crack down on opium and heroin
trafficking. Western intelligence officials say Chinese spies are active in
anti-narcotics operations in Myanmar, especially in northern areas where
central government control is weak. “There’s strong collaboration with
Chinese intelligence.”

Last month 11 Fijians died and more than 9,000 people were forced into
evacuation centres after the worst floods in decades. Sugar is Fiji’s
second major industry following tourism and sugar farms in the west have
been devastated by the flooding, with damages estimated to be in the tens
of millions of dollars.

The UN report on opium poppy cultivation is based on surveys taken from
helicopters and on the ground. The United States relies more heavily on
satellite images to calculate opium cultivation, and its reports are
sometimes at odds with those of the United Nations. The UN report did not
cover methamphetamine production and distribution, which among some
criminal syndicates has displaced opium and heroin in the region.

“We have launched an appeal seeking 95 million dollars, now we have
received only 6 percent in the two months since we launched and this is not
enough to run an operation.”

In Thailand, methamphetamines remain a problem but longstanding efforts by
the royal family to substitute opium production with vegetables, coffee and
macadamia nuts have virtually wiped out opium production among the northern
hill tribes.

Floods ravaging northern Australia have washed crocodiles onto the streets,
where one was hit by a car. More than 60 per cent of the vast northeastern
state of Queensland has been declared a disaster area, and flooding after
two recent cyclones has affected almost 3,000 homes. The army has been
called in to help with rescue and recovery efforts, while three reports of
large crocodiles washed up from flooded rivers have come in from homes in
the Gulf of Carpentaria region.

The incident fuels concerns that repression and violence against the Papuan
people is increasing.

“Many employers are doing the right thing, but there are many unscrupulous
employers who will exploit their workers to gain maximum profit out of the
cheap labour.”

Afghanistan remains the world’s premier source of opium, producing more
than 90 percent of global supply. Afghan soil is also remarkably more
fertile than the rocky, unirrigated opium fields in the Golden Triangle.
The UN estimates in its 2008 report that one hectare of land yielded an
average of 14.4 kilograms, or 31.7 pounds, of opium in Myanmar but 48.8
kilograms in Afghanistan.

“The damage bill is estimated at $76 million and growing. But we won’t
really know the full extent of the damage until the water subsides, so that
figure could double, it could treble.” It was the worst flooding seen in 30
years. Fresh food supplies were flown into the westerly townships of
Normanton and Karumba, which had been cut off by flood waters. The flooding
comes amid a heatwave over in south-eastern Australia.

The situation has been exacerbated by the global and financial crisis.
However a small fraction of the billions of dollars being spent by
governments to bail out banks and financial institutions could help save
millions of lives in the Horn of Africa.

The death toll in Australia’s worst-ever bushfires has risen to 128 people,
as hundreds more flood community shelters after losing everything they own.
The state government in Victoria, where the fires have raged since
Saturday, is being advised to prepare for 230 fatalities. Police confirmed
128 deaths from the fires, many which officials suspect were deliberately
lit.

1/15/2009

Corporate Tax Havens as California Cops Kill

Filed under: corporate-greed,government,police,usa — admin @ 4:16 pm

A former transit officer has been charged with murder in the shooting death of an unarmed black man that set off violent protests, officials said.

Johannes Mehserle, 27, was arrested Tuesday in Nevada and on Wednesday appeared briefly in court, where he waived extradition to California. He was expected to be returned to California.

Witnesses said Mehserle, who is white, fired a shot into the back of 22-year-old Oscar Grant while the man was lying face down on a train platform at a station in Oakland. Grant and others had been pulled off a train after reports of fighting, as New Year’s Eve revelers were shuttling home after midnight.

Alameda Country District Attorney Tom Orloff said he would not speculate on whether the charge would end up being first-degree murder or second-degree murder.

“At this point, what I feel the evidence indicates, is an unlawful killing done by an intentional act and from the evidence we have there’s nothing that would mitigate that to something lower than a murder,” Orloff said at a news conference announcing the charge.

Mehserle’s attorney, Christopher Miller, planned a news conference later at his office in Sacramento.

The shooting, captured on cell phone cameras and widely viewed on the Internet, has inflamed long-running tensions between law enforcement authorities and many African-American residents.

Hundreds of people have taken to the streets calling for the prosecution of Mehserle, with one rally last week spiraling into violence that resulted in more than 100 arrests and damage to dozens of businesses.

Another demonstration was planned Wednesday afternoon.

Mehserle surrendered without incident Tuesday at a family friend’s house in an upscale neighborhood on the east shore of Lake Tahoe in Douglas County, Nev., law enforcement officials said.

Douglas County Undersheriff Paul Howell said he believes Mehserle went to Nevada for his own safety.

“He just wanted to get out of the Bay Area due to the magnitude of the incident,” Howell said. “He wasn’t trying to run.”

John Burris, the attorney for Grant’s family, said the news of the charge was “terrific.”

“It is consistent with the evidence I have seen. I think the family will be pleased,” Burris said.

Mehserle had refused to talk to Bay Area Regional Transit investigators before resigning last week.

“I want to know why he did it,” said BART board member Carole Ward Allen. “We’ve heard from everybody else but him. While I can’t speak for the entire BART board, we want to make this process as transparent as possible.”

State Attorney General Jerry Brown assigned a prosecutor to monitor the case, and the U.S. Department of Justice sent mediators to help avert additional violent demonstrations.

•••

Most of the 100 largest U.S. companies, including big banks that recently received federal bailouts, have foreign subsidiaries that may help the corporate parent avoid paying U.S. taxes, according to a report released by congressional auditors.

Hundreds more companies operate tax havens under strict secrecy laws in places such as Switzerland, Hong Kong, Panama and Mauritius.

Tax havens are typically jurisdictions that have low or no taxes, provide high levels of client confidentiality, and do not exchange information with foreign tax authorities.

10/19/2008

Police Brutality Protestors Found Guilty

Filed under: police,usa — admin @ 3:12 am

The tragic death of Sean Bell revisited New York City recently. This past Oct. 6, eight of the remaining protesters went to trial in a Manhattan courtroom for their participation in the protest of the New York Police Department’s killing of Sean Bell as he was driving a car.

On Nov. 25, 2006, the morning of Bell’s impending wedding, NYC police shot 50 bullets into Bell’s car. In addition to killing Bell, they also wounded Trent Benefield and Joseph Guzman. None of the three men was armed. New York City has a history of its police targeting Blacks and Latinos in the form of racial profiling and killings.

People in New York City and nationally were outraged by the April 25 verdict acquitting all the officers of every charge in the shooting. On May 7, in New York City and elsewhere people expressed their extreme anger. Many hundreds took to the streets in a mass traffic action out of deep frustration and desperation, surrounded by thousands of supporters.

The protest action blocked bridges and tunnels at several different locations within New York City. The action, initiated by the National Action Network, was well organized. Approximately 250 participants were subsequently arrested for civil disobedience.

The bulk of those arrested had their cases adjourned in contemplation of dismissal at a later date. However, the Rev. Al Sharpton; Sara Flounders, International Action Center co-director; and six others were among the activists singled out for trial on Oct. 6th. One of the arrestees had himself been a victim of a brutal police attack.

Judge Larry Stephen, a former district attorney, refused to accept their “Not guilty—Necessity Defense” plea, and they were declared guilty. In essence, the Necessity Defense motion for dismissal argued that the conduct of the protesters was justifiable and not criminal.

The motion also argued that the desirability and urgency of avoiding further police misconduct and violence should outweigh the civil disobedience offense of blocking traffic; that there were no adequate legal means to prevent further police brutality; that there was an immediate need to break the pattern of police killings; and that the arrestees felt they had no other recourse against the precipitating injustices than the action they took.

On Oct. 8, all eight defendants were sentenced to “time already served in jail” and fined $95 each. Benefield, Guzman and Sean Bell’s fiancée, Nicole Bell, were in the courtroom. Despite no one going to jail, it was another example of justice being denied to the people.

In Flounders’ statement to the court she pointed out that “When the protesters’ defense of ‘justified necessity’ has no basis and the police’s long record and pattern of attacks is not relevant to the protesters’ actions, it only confirms the pervasiveness of police misconduct and that the courts have lost the ability to hear the rising anger.

“The traffic action by the many hundreds of people,” she added, “was a polite reminder to the powers in NYC of the people’s ability, in response to deep grievances, to bring the city to a halt, even if just for minutes. It also shows the enormous power and potential that people have when they are mobilized. None of us are guilty. The police guilt is what stands. While the police are found ‘not guilty’ there is no justice.”

10/8/2008

Two Die In Day-long Street Protest In Thailand

Filed under: government,police,thailand — admin @ 8:38 am

Two people died and more than 380 others were injured in the day-long street battle between Thai police and thousands of anti-government supporters in the capital.

The first casualty was a man who was killed instantly in an explosion at the vehicle he was standing near, not far from the Parliament building where police started firing tear gas at 6.20am to disperse supporters of the People’s Alliance for Democracy (PAD).

The Ramathipbodi Hospital announced Tuesday night that a 25-year-old woman identified as Angkana Radubpunyawut died from serious injuries sustained during the clash between police and protesters at noon.

According to the Bangkok Metropolitan Administration’s emergency centre, the number of injured rose to more than 380, including 48 who were admitted to hospital.

Most of them had injuries suffered from being hit by tear gas canisters fired by riot police who have been battling the protesters since morning, with clashes continuing at press time around the roads leading to the Parliament building and the Metropolitan Police headquarters.

PAD, which had seized the country’s administration centre at the Government House on Aug 26, led the siege to Parliament last night in an effort to block the government under new prime minister Somchai Wongsawat from giving its policy speech this morning.

Elsewhere in the capital, the situation remained calm, but workers at the Bangkok Port have announced that they would go on strike tomorrow to support PAD.

The PAD’s main tactic appears to be create anarchy in Bangkok to the point that it triggers extra-constitutional intervention either by revered King Bhumibol Adulyadej or the military.

9/26/2008

Police ‘executed suspects’

Filed under: kenya,police — admin @ 5:14 am

Secret police killings of more than 500 youths were sanctioned by the Government, a new report claims.

The murders were carried out by special execution squads and were part of the crackdown on Mungiki. They were authorised by the top “political leadership” and the police command, says the report.

But while providing graphic details on the alleged executions by police, the report offers very little evidence that the killings were sanctioned at top levels of government.

The watchdog claims to have recorded evidence from some police officers who claimed they were ordered to take part in the killings but said that part of their report cannot be released until the officers’ safety is guaranteed.

The officers were said to be seeking guarantees of safety under the Witness Protection Act. They are said to have named senior officers who gave the execution orders.

Besides shooting their victims, the police are said to have strangled, drowned, bludgeoned and mutilated some of their targets.

And the squads of ruthless killers formed to carry out the killings are still active, according to the report, by the Kenya National Commission on Human Rights.

Names of victims, the dates on which they were killed and places where their bodies were dumped are all detailed.

The watchdog also gives accounts from witnesses including details of how and where the victims were seized, the names of the police officers involved and the registration numbers of the vehicles they used.

The rights group also claims police deployed to the special murder squads took advantage of the shoot-to-kill policy to set up an extortion cartel in which families of youths arrested were forced to pay hefty amounts of money to have them freed.

Witness accounts show the rogue officers demanded between Sh10,000 and Sh1 million to free a suspect, otherwise he was killed. Kwekwe Squad, a crack unit formed last year to hunt Mungiki sect members, is accused of being at the forefront of the killings.
Months after the squad was formed, the report says, other teams, including regular and Administration Police officers were involved. But the police on Tuesday officially denied that they had anything to do with the killings. Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe said: “It’s impossible for police to engage in those activities. Those are not actions that may hold anybody responsible here at Kenya Police.”

The shocking new claims were revealed by KNCHR vice-chairman Hassan Omar and the watchdog’s principal human rights officer Victor Kamau. “It’s unacceptable to kill citizens in utter disregard of the rule of law. The attorney-general must rule that all these murders and extra-judicial killings are investigated and perpetrators prosecuted,” said Mr Omar.
According to the report, the last execution, allegedly by the police, was on July 7 and several other youths are reported to have disappeared as late as last month.

9/21/2008

Papua New Guinea Urged by Human Rights Group to Check Police Abuses

Filed under: global islands,png,police — admin @ 4:55 am

Human Rights Watch (HRW), a Washington based group, has called for Papua New Guinea police officers to be held accountable for use of torture and sexual assault. HRW has written a letter to the government addressing their concerns.

HRW’s letter is based on information from its reports in 2004 and 2005 that show “regular police torture, rape, and use excessive force against children; police commonly committing acts of sexual violence, including against female sex workers, and men and boys suspected of homosexual conduct; police harassing persons found carrying condoms, which undermines efforts to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS; police routinely detaining children with adults in police lock-ups; and police rarely being punished for these acts.” According to HRW, these actions violate Papua New Guinea laws and regulations and also breach international standards, including the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights (ICCPR). The most applicable sections of the ICCPR are Articles 7 and 10 which prohibit the use of torture and require that detainees be treated with respect.

HRW spokesperson Zama Coursen-Neff has said it is important to focus on both short and long term measures to address the abuse of powers by police officers. She has also called on Internal Security Minister Sani Rambi and Police Commissioner Gari Baki to charge any member of the police force who used excessive force while on duty. Ms. Coursen-Neff thinks actions should be pursued against the officers both administratively and criminally.

HRW has also, however, commended Papua New Guinea in its recent steps towards guaranteeing respect for fundamental human rights with its accession to international conventions, including the above-mentioned ICCPR and the International Covenant on Economic, Social and Cultural Rights (ICESCR). Ms. Coursen-Neff has said, “The current Police Commissioner is beginning to speak openly about human rights and talk about the need to clean up the police force. And the Ombudsman Commission is actually now involved in some of the more serious cases, however this has simply not translated into an expectation among police that if they beat up children, if they rape girls, if they steal things from street vendors, then they’re going to be prosecuted.”

HRW is an independent, nongovernmental organization that started in 1978 and tracks progress in over 70 countries throughout the world.

9/16/2008

U.N. watchdog denounces police killings in Brazil

Filed under: brazil,police — admin @ 5:11 am

Police frequently kill criminal suspects and ordinary citizens in Brazil, driving up the homicide rate in what is already one of the world’s most violent countries, the United Nations said on Monday.

In a 49-page report, the U.N. Human Rights Council also concluded that a sizable portion of the Brazilian population in high-crime areas supports extrajudicial killings and vigilante justice in the absence of an efficient criminal justice system.

While police killings are commonplace all across the South American country, the problem is most pronounced in the tourist mecca of Rio de Janeiro, according to Philip Alston, the U.N.’s special rapporteur on unlawful killings, who visited Brazil at the invitation of the government.

“In Rio de Janeiro, the police kill three people every day. They are responsible for one out of every five killings,” Alston said in the report, which was based on a 10-day fact-finding mission to Brazil last November.

The report found that on-duty police officers using deadly force are only part of the problem. A large number of off-duty officers routinely moonlight as members of death squads and take part in other forms of organized crime, it said.

The report singled out the proliferation of so-called militias as especially worrisome. These groups, mostly made up of off-duty and retired police officers, originated as private security providers in Rio’s violent slums but evolved into extortion rackets that frequently mete out summary justice.

“A remarkable number of police lead double lives,” Alston said. “While on duty, they fight the drug gangs, but on their days off, they work as foot soldiers of organized crime.”

Another hot spot for police violence is the northeastern state of Pernambuco, where Alston estimated that 70 percent of all homicides are committed by death squads made up of off-duty and retired officers.

The report identified a handful of factors that may drive police to take part in organized crime, such as poor salaries and a shift structure with long hours that is followed by several consecutive days off.

But the most important factor contributing to police killings may be Brazil’s shabby criminal justice system, which seldom achieves convictions even in ordinary murder cases. The report found that, in Sao Paulo, only 10 percent of homicides ever go to trial.

Alston also offered some recommendations on how to reduce police violence. They included higher salaries for police, better forensics, an improved witness protection program and a series of measures aimed at holding officers accountable for unlawful behavior and the use of excessive force.

9/5/2008

Pre-emptive Police Attacks

Filed under: government,human rights,police,usa — admin @ 4:17 am

In the months leading up to the Republican National Convention, the FBI-led Minneapolis Joint Terrorist Task Force actively recruited people to infiltrate vegan groups and other leftist organizations and report back about their activities. On May 21, the Minneapolis City Pages ran a recruiting story called “Moles Wanted.” Law enforcement sought to pre-empt lawful protest against the policies of the Bush administration during the convention.

Since Friday, local police and sheriffs, working with the FBI, conducted pre-emptive searches, seizures and arrests. Glenn Greenwald described the targeting of protesters by “teams of 25-30 officers in riot gear, with semi-automatic weapons drawn, entering homes of those suspected of planning protests, handcuffing and forcing them to lay on the floor, while law enforcement officers searched the homes, seizing computers, journals, and political pamphlets.” Journalists were detained at gunpoint and lawyers representing detainees were handcuffed at the scene.

“I was personally present and saw officers with riot gear and assault rifles, pump action shotguns,” said Bruce Nestor, the president of the Minnesota chapter of the National Lawyers Guild, who is representing several of the protesters. “The neighbor of one of the houses had a gun pointed in her face when she walked out on her back porch to see what was going on. There were children in all of these houses, and children were held at gunpoint.”

The raids targeted members of “Food Not Bombs,” an antiwar, anti-authoritarian protest group that provides free vegetarian meals every week in hundreds of cities all over the world. They served meals to rescue workers at the World Trade Center after 9/11 and to nearly 20 communities in the Gulf region following Hurricane Katrina.

Also targeted, were members of I-Witness Video, a media watchdog group that monitors the police to protect civil liberties. The group worked with the National Lawyers Guild to gain the dismissal of charges or acquittals of about 400 of the 1,800 who were arrested during the 2004 Republican National Convention in New York. Pre-emptive policing was used at that time as well. Police infiltrated protest groups in advance of the convention.

Nestor said that no violence or illegality has taken place to justify the arrests. “Seizing boxes of political literature shows the motive of these raids was political,” he said.

Further evidence of the political nature of the police action was the boarding up of the Convergence Center, where protesters had gathered, for unspecified code violations. St. Paul City Council member David Thune said, “Normally we only board up buildings that are vacant and ramshackle.” Thune and fellow City Council member Elizabeth Glidden decried “actions that appear excessive and create an atmosphere of fear and intimidation for those who wish to exercise their First Amendment rights.”

“So here we have a massive assault led by Federal Government law enforcement agencies on left-wing dissidents and protesters who have committed no acts of violence or illegality whatsoever, preceded by months-long espionage efforts to track what they do,” Greenwald wrote on Salon.

Preventive detention violates the Fourth Amendment, which requires that warrants be supported by probable cause. protesters were charged with “conspiracy to commit riot,” a rarely-used statute that is so vague, it is probably unconstitutional. Nestor said it “basically criminalizes political advocacy.”

On Sunday, the National Lawyers Guild and Communities United Against Police Brutality filed an emergency motion requesting an injunction to prevent police from seizing video equipment and cellular phones used to document their conduct.

During Monday’s demonstration, law enforcement officers used pepper spray, rubber bullets, concussion grenades and excessive force. At least 284 people were arrested, including Amy Goodman, the prominent host of “Democracy Now!,” as well as the show’s producers, Abdel Kouddous and Nicole Salazar. “St. Paul was the most militarized I have ever seen an American city to be,” Greenwald wrote, “with troops of federal, state and local law enforcement agents marching around with riot gear, machine guns, and tear gas cannisters, shouting military chants and marching in military formations.”

Bruce Nestor said the timing of the arrests was intended to stop protest activity, “to make people fearful of the protests, but also to discourage people from protesting,” he told Amy Goodman. Nevertheless, 10,000 people, many opposed to the Iraq war, turned out to demonstrate on Monday. A legal team from the National Lawyers Guild has been working diligently to protect the constitutional rights of protesters.

8/26/2008

this was what ‘democracy’ looked-like

Filed under: police — admin @ 11:32 am

8/6/2008

Raskol gangs rule world’s worst city

Filed under: bangladesh,global islands,png,police,wealth — admin @ 6:05 am

High levels of rape, robbery and murder help keep Port Moresby, the capital of Papua New Guinea, at the wrong end of the hardship table.

In Lagos, expect chaos. There are gun battles in Bogotá. Crime has been a curse in Karachi. But there is nowhere on earth quite like this.

According to a survey by the Economist Intelligence Unit, the capital of Papua New Guinea has beaten all-comers – again – to take a title that no city on earth would covet.

With poverty, crime, poor healthcare and a rampant gang culture, Port Moresby consistently scores highest in the unit’s “hardship” table, meaning it is regarded as the worst place to live among 130 world capitals. Baghdad is not on the list.

According to the unit, most aspects of daily life in Moresby are problematic.

Little bigger than Plymouth, with a population of 250,000, it is a place where murder rates are exceptionally high, thanks mainly to the “raskol” gangs that control large areas of the city.

Tales of their exploits are legion; from bank robberies with M-16 machine guns, to car holdups by mobs armed with machetes.

Rape cases are even worse: in one widely reported incident last year, an injured nurse was dragged away from a car crash to be gang-raped.

Visitors to Port Moresby are advised not to go out after sunset, and to avoid walking the streets in most areas even during the day.

The houses of the wealthy squat behind walls tipped with razor-wire and gates watched by security guards.

The precautions are necessary because a survey of international crime by the Home Office shows that the murder rate there is three times that of Moscow, and 23 times that of London.

The rates for robberies and rapes are just as dire.

But the raskols say much of the violence is meted out by the police, and that they are provoked into retaliation.

The base of Moresby’s Bomai gang can be found up a dark sidestreet in the suburb of Four Mile. At the entrance to their squatter settlement a man is on guard, armed with a walkie-talkie.

“The police we know are very dangerous. They come in to the settlement and raid the people’s food and property and beers,” says Koiva, one of the leaders of the gang.

He has a pattern of welts on his head where he says he was beaten by a police officer with a glass bottle to extract a confession.

Another gang member, Stephen, shows two dark scars on his legs which he says were caused when he was shot in police custody.

Most people living in Port Moresby show little sympathy for the Bomai, whose raids on businesses and residential compounds have made them infamous. “Bloody raskols. Shoot first and ask questions later, that’s what they [the police] should do,” says an Australian expatriate.

Often, that is precisely what happens.

“I think the government are happy every time the police shoot a young man but we have thousands more youths on the streets,” says Peter Gola, a former raskol working at City Mission, a charity that helps the city’s street children.

Most raskols argue that their crimes are driven by the crushing poverty of life.

“We never mean to kill people,” says Koiva. “We’re just trying to scare them and get what we want to get.”

Papua New Guinea has no welfare state, so in rural areas family and clan networks have kept people in food and lodging. That system has broken down in the capital, which sits in an arid part of the country where unemployment rates are estimated to be between 60- and 90%.

A kilo of rice here costs four kina – about 70p – and a tin of fish is three kina, but this is beyond the means of many families.

Most raskols say they get into crime when their parents send them out to make money. Pressured to generate an income, they turn to violence. An armed robbery can easily net more than 100,000 kina (£17,500).

“When that happens, we live like kings,” says Harris, another Bomai member. “If you’re lucky, you eat something good. Maybe chicken.”

But there is some hope for change. Twenty minutes’ drive from Moresby, City Mission’s New Life farm has offered an alternative to the violence for between 5,000 and 6,000 street children since it opened 11 years ago.

The regime is strict: smoking and drinking are forbidden and there is a strong religious flavour to the instruction.

But the founder, Larry George, says the structure and respect of their new lives can work wonders.

“Most of them aren’t bad kids,” says Mr George. “It’s mainly just poverty that’s driving the crime. People can read in the papers about the government stealing millions of kina and get really frustrated.”

Many of the children, he says, end up as security guards, exchanging fire with the raskols who were once their peers.

Global ranking

Best five

1= Melbourne, Australia

1= Vancouver, Canada

1= Vienna, Austria

4 Perth, Australia

5 Geneva, Switzerland

Worst five

126 Phnom Penh, Cambodia

127 Lagos, Nigeria

128 Dhaka, Bangladesh

129 Karachi, Pakistan

130 Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea

Chinese cops slaughtered

Filed under: china,human rights,police — admin @ 5:36 am

Try as it might, Beijing can’t control everything

This country, after trying to anticipate and stop every possible security situation leading into the Summer Olympics, has found with deadly certainty that the Games will only magnify discontent and anger.

In the western border city of Kashgar, 4,000 km from this host city, militants have attacked and killed a battalion of police officers.

The terrorists, lashing out in a volatile region, struck with unprecedented brutality, murdering at least 16 officers and wounding as many again.

It happened just as the world’s attention is on China. Which is part of the point.

As well as bloody, the attack on the officers — on a morning jog through the city — was symbolic, because it took place in an area of China under constant watch.

Officials here claim to have put down several planned attacks, orchestrated around the Games, which begin here on Aug. 8.

They have said separtists from the East Turkestan Islamic Movement have planned a number of assaults.

The police killings in Kashgar yesterday — which involved homemade bombs and knives, local media reports say — were just what Beijing has hoped to avoid, as clocks here in the capital count down the days, minutes and seconds until the start of the Olympics.

Security is everywhere, as face recognition software blueprints your features when you use your Olympic credentials to get into secure locations.

The police presence is especially tight around Tiananmen Square, where the world watched Chinese troops march against pro-democracy protesters almost 20 years ago. But on the same day the terrorists killed the police officers here, a small band of Beijing residents still managed to use a corner of the huge square to be heard.

At least for a moment.

One of the main social issues here in the capital has been the land scooped up, cleared out and rebuilt on.

Charging their homes have been stolen for the sake of progress — in this case, not for the Olympics, but for urban development — a small band of angry residents tried to protest in the square yesterday. Waving banners and attracting some media attention, as well as police officers, the group said they were proud of hosting the Olympics, but upset with how ordinary homeowners are being treated as China welcomes the world.

8/1/2008

Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI)

Filed under: global islands,police,solomon islands — admin @ 5:13 am

A leading American political philosopher and economist is warning that the Regional Assistance Mission to the Solomon Islands (RAMSI) which includes nearly 100 New Zealand soldiers and police cannot end any time in the foreseeable future because of social conditions there.

The alert came in a paper by Professor Francis Fukuyama of John Hopkins School of Advanced International Studies.

In a World Bank study, Professor Fukuyama says an exit strategy is not possible because RAMSI had made short term progress.

“The militias responsible for the violence earlier in the decade have been disarmed and disbanded, and the formal criminal justice system has been functioning to identify and punish those responsible for serious crimes,” he wrote.

“On the other hand, the social conditions that led to the violence persist in ways that make it impossible to consider ending RAMSI’s presence any time in the foreseeable future.”

A very large Malaitan population remained on Guadalcanal and there was a significant population of jobless and disaffected young people in the settlements around the capital Honiara.

Professor Fukuyama said the most troubling indicator of potential future problems was the Solomon’s police which, in the short term was RAMSI’s chief success.

The militias had grown out of the Solomon’s Police as they were more loyal to their ethnic group or wantok (extended family) than to the Solomons as a whole.

“It is not clear that any progress has been made in changing this mindset,” he wrote, adding there were still many officers in the police who were involved in the conflict and have not yet been purged.

Professor Fukuyama said one of the striking gaps was “the absence of any sense of national identity” in the Solomons.

“In the absence of a long-term nation-building project owned and promoted by the country’s political leadership, I am at a loss to understand how the country will ever overcome the divisions that led to the 1999-2003 violence.

“Ethnic and wantok loyalties will never disappear, but they can be held in check by a national elite that is loyal to a larger concept of nation. At the moment, I don’t see any dynamic that would lead the country in this direction.”

Few people were willing to admit to actively thinking about an exit strategy or are able to contemplate even a rough date for termination of the mission and handing back the currently shared state functions.

“RAMSI is thus operating under rather fictional premises, namely that at some point the country’s capacity will improve across the board to the point that RAMSI can be withdrawn.”

Professor Fukuyama argues that the region needed to give up the idea that RAMSI was a crisis response and should move to sharing sovereignty over the state and keeping the current monopoly it has on lethal use of force.

While RAMSI had dealt with the immediate issues, “there is no dynamic process that that will permit RAMSI to wind down at least a residual security role any time in the foreseeable future”

7/14/2008

Police again face sex-abuse and murder allegations

Filed under: human rights,police,usa — admin @ 4:11 pm

A girl accuses the officer who killed a 20-year-old Irishman during a recent burglary call.

A cop from Silverton who fatally shot an Irish national while making a burglary call two weeks ago was jailed early Sunday on charges that he sexually abused an underage girl.

The allegations surfaced Saturday, when a woman and her daughter dropped in to the Keizer police station, accusing Silverton officer Tony Gonzalez, 35, of sexually abusing the girl on multiple occasions.

Authorities declined to identify the girl, other than to say she was younger than 18. They provided no details about when or where the sexual incidents allegedly occurred.

Gonzalez was held on two counts of sexual abuse in the first degree, a felony that carries a 75-month minimum sentence, and three counts of third-degree sex abuse.

The officer remains on administrative leave from the Silverton Police Department pending the outcome of an investigation into the June 30 shooting of Andrew “A.J.” Hanlon. The 20-year-old Irishman, described by family members as mentally disturbed, had lived with his sister for about a year in the town east of Salem.

Gonzalez was responding to a burglary call when he spotted Hanlon, yelled a warning, then shot him to death. Authorities have declined to release details of the incident.

Hanlon’s brother-in-law, Nathan Heise, has said the young man had a habit of banging on their door when he wanted to be let in. Heise and his wife believe that Hanlon had mistakenly gone to the wrong house, startling the residents and prompting the call to police.

Marion County Deputy District Attorney Matt Kemmy, the prosecutor handling the official investigation of the shooting, said he expects to present the case before a grand jury in the next two weeks. That panel will decide whether the shooting of Hanlon was justified.

Kemmy, who suddenly found himself looking into the sex-abuse charges against Gonzalez on Saturday night, said the two cases are unrelated. It was happenstance, he said, that the girl stepped forward with her allegations against Gonzalez after news media carried accounts of Hanlon’s shooting.

“It will be more clear as time goes on,” he said, but the two cases “are independent.”

Silverton police declined comment Sunday about the allegations Gonzalez faces, but police are expected to issue a statement today.

Hanlon’s family, intrigued by news of Gonzalez’s arrest, referred comments about the development to their Portland lawyer, Kelly Clark.

“It would be odd to say this morning’s developments don’t change anything, because they raise all kinds of questions,” Clark said on Sunday. “But we just think now is not the time for us to be asking questions or making public comments.”

Hanlon’s family, which wept through his funeral in Silverton on Saturday afternoon, will wait until the district attorney’s office and Silverton police conclude their investigations of the young man’s shooting, Clark said.

“Let’s assume the officer is charged with some sort of a crime in the shooting of A.J.; that’s going to leave them — the family — with one set of reactions,” Clark said. “If nothing happens, or the response comes back that the authorities believe he was fully justified, then the family will be probably in a completely different frame of mind.”

Gonzalez was held for a little more than an hour in the Marion County jail early Sunday before he was taken to Polk County and booked into jail there.

“It was for his safety,” said Polk County communications supervisor Ian Wilson. “He had made arrests in that county and it wouldn’t be safe for him to be in Marion County Jail.”

Kemmy said he will file a district attorney’s information against Gonzalez today, which will formally charge him with sex abuse. The prosecutor said he expects to take the allegations before a grand jury sometime before July 22.

Gonzalez will be arraigned Tuesday in Marion County Circuit Court and “will not have an opportunity to make bail until arraignment,” said Marion County Sheriff’s Office Commander Jason Myers.

4/30/2008

Cops Kill

Filed under: police,usa — admin @ 1:41 pm

Last Friday, three New York City police officers were acquitted for the killing of
23-year old Sean Bell, early in the morning on what was to be his wedding day, in
November of 2005. Bell’s 50-bullet murder sparked outrage in a city that is no
stranger to police brutality; the list of police killings of unarmed black men over
the years is long and familiar.

People like to treat police shootings as “tragic” isolated incidents, but the ugly
truth is that police officers inflict violence on black communities on a regular
basis. And they get away with it, time and time again. “When cops go on trial for
overuse of deadly force, their victims are generally young blacks and Latinos,” writes
one commentator. “The attorneys that defend them are top gun defense attorneys and
have had much experience defending police officers accused of misconduct. Police
unions pay them and they spare no expense in their defense. The cops rarely serve any
pre-trial jail time, and are released on ridiculously low bail.”

Bell, meanwhile, was handcuffed while mortally injured. Is this really what we call
“justice for all”?

10/27/2007

The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism

Filed under: General,government,media,military,police,usa,wealth — admin @ 7:23 am

In THE SHOCK DOCTRINE, Naomi Klein explodes the myth that the global free market triumphed democratically. Exposing the thinking, the money trail and the puppet strings behind the world-changing crises and wars of the last four decades, The Shock Doctrine is the gripping story of how America’s “free market” policies have come to dominate the world– through the exploitation of disaster-shocked people and countries.

At the most chaotic juncture in Iraq’s civil war, a new law is unveiled that would allow Shell and BP to claim the country’s vast oil reserves…. Immediately following September 11, the Bush Administration quietly out-sources the running of the “War on Terror” to Halliburton and Blackwater…. After a tsunami wipes out the coasts of Southeast Asia, the pristine beaches are auctioned off to tourist resorts…. New Orleans’s residents, scattered from Hurricane Katrina, discover that their public housing, hospitals and schools will never be reopened…. These events are examples of “the shock doctrine”: using the public’s disorientation following massive collective shocks – wars, terrorist attacks, or natural disasters — to achieve control by imposing economic shock therapy. Sometimes, when the first two shocks don’t succeed in wiping out resistance, a third shock is employed: the electrode in the prison cell or the Taser gun on the streets.

Based on breakthrough historical research and four years of on-the-ground reporting in disaster zones, The Shock Doctrine vividly shows how disaster capitalism – the rapid-fire corporate reengineering of societies still reeling from shock – did not begin with September 11, 2001. The book traces its origins back fifty years, to the University of Chicago under Milton Friedman, which produced many of the leading neo-conservative and neo-liberal thinkers whose influence is still profound in Washington today. New, surprising connections are drawn between economic policy, “shock and awe” warfare and covert CIA-funded experiments in electroshock and sensory deprivation in the 1950s, research that helped write the torture manuals used today in Guantanamo Bay.

The Shock Doctrine follows the application of these ideas though our contemporary history, showing in riveting detail how well-known events of the recent past have been deliberate, active theatres for the shock doctrine, among them: Pinochet’s coup in Chile in 1973, the Falklands War in 1982, the Tiananmen Square Massacre in 1989, the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1991, the Asian Financial crisis in 1997 and Hurricane Mitch in 1998.

10/25/2007

Kenya police deny sect killings

Filed under: General,kenya,police — admin @ 5:03 am

Kenyan police have denied carrying out extra-judicial killings of alleged members of the outlawed Mungiki sect.

Police spokesman Eric Kiraithe dismissed the allegation of police executions of suspects as “outrageous”.

The Kenya National Human Rights Commission (KNHRC) had made the claim after investigating incidences of dead bodies being dumped around the capital.

In June, the president ordered police to hunt down Mungiki sect members blamed for a series of grisly murders.

“Even if you hide, we will find you and kill you,” President Mwai Kibaki had said in a warning to members of the quasi-religious sect which was outlawed in 2002.

Mungiki followers have been demanding protection fees from public transport operators, slum dwellers and other businessmen in and around Nairobi.

Those who refuse are often brutally murdered.

Arrests

Mr Kiraithe said KNHRC’s allegations were a plot to discredit the government in the run-up to the December elections.

Mungiki followers

Rise of Kenya’s vigilantes

A news agency reports that more than a dozen bloodied bodies have been dumped in bush on the outskirts of Nairobi in the past week.

The state-sponsored KNHRC has been investigating whether these and other killings were the victims of police executions.

KNHRC commissioner Hassan Omar said the organisation had reports of “cars being driven to secret locations with suspects” followed by “gunshots, then dead bodies and food for the hyenas”.

Mr Omar said some of the latest victims may have been innocent of any crime.

But Mr Kiraithe insisted that police officers followed the rule of law when dealing with suspects.

After the president’s directive, police raided the Nairobi slum of Mathare to arrest hundreds of suspected sect members.

At least 30 people died in gun battles with police during that operation, leading the human rights organisation Amnesty International to call for an enquiry.

10/13/2007

“Testi-Lying”

Filed under: General,police — admin @ 11:05 am

As all realistic citizens recognize, cops aren’t just thugs-with-badges. They are liars, too.

While a cop may imply that failure to speak immediately will result in arrest, a person cannot be arrested for exercising the right to remain silent. Police can only arrest a person if probable cause exists, and the choice to remain silent cannot be part of that analysis. If the officers already have probable cause, they would not need to question you. If they do not, the statement you make could well supply it.

"Testi-Lying"

Filed under: General,police — admin @ 11:05 am

As all realistic citizens recognize, cops aren’t just thugs-with-badges. They are liars, too.

While a cop may imply that failure to speak immediately will result in arrest, a person cannot be arrested for exercising the right to remain silent. Police can only arrest a person if probable cause exists, and the choice to remain silent cannot be part of that analysis. If the officers already have probable cause, they would not need to question you. If they do not, the statement you make could well supply it.

10/12/2007

2,002 die in police custody in 3 years

Filed under: General,government,police,usa — admin @ 11:24 am

WASHINGTON – More than 2,000 criminal suspects died in police custody over a three-year period, half of them killed by officers as they scuffled or attempted to flee, the government said Thursday.

The study by the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics is the first nationwide compilation of the reasons behind arrest- related deaths in the wake of high-profile police assaults or killings involving Abner Louima and Amadou Diallo in New York in the late 1990s.

The review found 55 percent of the 2,002 arrest-related deaths from 2003 through 2005 were due to homicide by state and local law enforcement officers. Alcohol and drug intoxication caused 13 percent of the deaths, followed by suicides at 12 percent, accidental injury at 7 percent and illness or natural causes, 6 percent. The causes of the deaths for the remaining 7 percent were unknown.

The highly populated states of California, Texas and Florida led the pack for both police killings and overall arrest-related deaths. Georgia, Maryland and Montana were not included in the study because they did not submit data.

Most of those who died in custody were men (96 percent) between the ages of 18 and 44 (77 percent). Approximately 44 percent were white; 32 percent black; 20 percent Hispanic; and 4 percent were of other or multiple races.

“Keep in mind we have 2,000 deaths out of almost 40 million arrests over three years, so that tells you by their nature they are very unusual cases,” said Christopher J. Mumola, who wrote the study.

“Still, they do need to be looked at to determine whether police training can be better or practices can be better,” he said.

State laws and police department policy typically let officers use deadly force to defend themselves or others from the threat of death or serious injury. Deadly force also is allowed to prevent the escape of a suspect in a violent felony who poses an immediate threat to others.

The Justice Department study released Thursday suggests that most of the police killings would be considered justified, although it does not make that final determination. About 80 percent of the cases involved criminal suspects who reportedly brandished a weapon “to threaten or assault” the arresting officers.

Another 17 percent involved suspects who allegedly grabbed, hit or fought with police. More than one-third of the police killings, or about 36 percent, involved a suspect who tried to flee or otherwise escape arrest.

The report was compiled at the request of Congress in 2000 after the 1997 struggle between New York police and Louima, a black security guard who left the precinct house bleeding after officers jammed a broken broomstick into his mouth and rectum. A few years later, two police shootings of unarmed black men followed, including Diallo, who was shot 41 times after he reached into his pocket for a wallet.

Since then, following police sensitivity training, New York has seen a few killings involving suspects and officers, including last year’s shooting of Sean Bell, an unarmed black bridegroom-to-be whom police say they believed was reaching for a gun.

Other findings:

Among law enforcement, 380 officers were killed in the line of duty over the three-year period and 174,760 were reportedly assaulted, according to FBI data. Most of the deaths were accidental (221), while 159 were homicides.

Blacks were disproportionately represented in arrest-related deaths due to alcohol or drug intoxication (41 percent vs. 33 percent for whites); accidental injury (42 percent vs. 37 percent for whites); and unknown causes (46 percent vs. 39 percent for whites)

8/30/2007

Beijing Police Launch Virtual Web Patrol

Filed under: General,media,police — admin @ 4:40 am

BEIJING — Police in China’s capital said Tuesday they will start patrolling the Web using animated beat officers that pop up on a user’s browser and walk, bike or drive across the screen warning them to stay away from illegal Internet content.

Starting Sept. 1, the cartoon alerts will appear every half hour on 13 of China’s top portals, including Sohu and Sina, and by the end of the year will appear on all Web sites registered with Beijing servers, the Beijing Public Security Ministry said in a statement.

China stringently polices the Internet for material and content that the ruling Communist Party finds politically or morally threatening. Despite the controls, nudity, profanity, illegal gambling and pirated music, books and film have proliferated on Chinese Internet servers.

The animated police appeared designed to startle Web surfers and remind them that authorities closely monitor Web activity. However, the statement did not say whether there were plans to boost monitoring further.

The male and female cartoon officers, designed for the ministry by Sohu, will offer a text warning to surfers to abide by the law and tips on Internet security as they move across the screen in a virtual car, motorcycle or on foot, it said.

If Internet users need police help they can click on the cartoon images and will be redirected to the authority’s Web site, it said.

“We will continue to promote new images of the virtual police and update our Internet security tips in an effort to make the image of the virtual police more user friendly and more in tune with how web surfers use the Internet,” it said.

China has the world’s second-largest population of Internet users, with 137 million people online, and is on track to surpass the United States as the largest online population in two years.

The government routinely blocks surfers from accessing overseas sites and closes down domestic Web sites deemed obscene or subversive.

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